Sunday, September 23, 2007

17 September 2007: Tambaram Clinic

Today we visited the third project of MAKE ART/STOP AIDS India, which is located at the Government Hospital of Thoracic Medicine in Chennai. Historically a TB hospital, Tambaram developed into an HIV/AIDS hospital as well in the 1990s, and now serves not only the state of Tamil Nadu, but also surrounding states such as Andhra Pradesh and Maharastra. Many people newly diagnosed as HIV+ come to the hospital for a stay of one month (longer if they have a TB co-infection, or multiple drug resistant – MDR – TB) to start anti-retroviral treatment. Nalamdana, a street theater company, started developing theater pieces to educate the patients, many of whom are illiterate, about things such as how to take their medication, the importance of good nutrition, and how to prevent HIV transmission. With MA/SA, their innovative combination of entertainment and education has developed into a cable radio station heard in the wards across the hospital complex which features both music and health messages. When we visited the radio “station,” a woman who works as a sweeper at Tambaram was singing a traditional folk song live. People at the hospital really do feel it’s their station, and when we met with a group of patients from the ART clinic a short time later, they eagerly told us about their favorite programs, what they’ve learned from the radio station, and how the station responds to their needs and requests. Afterwards, we had the pleasure of meeting with the Superintendent of the hospital, who is a big supporter of the project.

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